Melissa Vigar

Executive Director

Melissa is a Registered Social Worker who has been actively working in the field of Acquired Brain Injury since 2001.  Throughout her career she has provided support to survivors and the individuals who support them both in the non-profit and private sector.  With collaboration and compassion being her focus, she has supervised teams and implemented trainings and programs in both community and residential settings.   She is passionate about improving the quality of life for anyone who has suffered an ABI as well as ensuring that the individuals who support them are equipped with resources, education and strategies for self care.
Outside of work, you can find Melissa in the kitchen cooking and baking with her two girls.  She uses the fuel from these treats to power her other passions of hot yoga and rock climbing.

Laura Bellon

Community Coordinator, Homeless Prevention Program

Laura Bellon has been providing services for individuals with Acquired Brain Injury since 2002 in both the public sector and private sector. She has passionately helped individuals with multiple physical, cognitive, and psychological needs navigate the healthcare system and rehabilitation world.

She comes to BIST with a background in Sociology and Education, with certificates in crisis supports, errorless learning, and occupational health and safety. Her experience with individuals in the community and within residential programs in the Greater Toronto Area, has helped those living with the effects of an ABI work toward their goals to lead healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives.

You will most likely know Laura is around when you hear her contagious laugh and see her dancing to her favorite songs. She enjoys watching her son perform his theater plays and walking Ontario’s trails in the summer.

Madison Chong

Programs Assistant

Madison is a passionate individual regarding topics on brain injury, brain health and wellness. Her authentic experience led Madison down the trajectory in working for BIST. Madison’s skill for organization, communication, combined with her great desire to help others, ensures BIST’s clients and members receive optimal advocacy and support.  Madison has attended school for Child & Youth Work, and looks to return to further her studies. She is a lover of tea, cooking, yoga, reading, music and podcast listening.

Melissa Forrest

Programs and Services Coordinator / Peer Support Coordinator

Melissa Forrest came to BIST originally on a two month contract as our ABI Community Connections Coordinator in the summer of 2020, where she assisted members access technology supports. She has over 10 years experiencing working in brain injury, including working as an Educational Assistant at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. Her experience includes being a tutor at George Brown College and working at the First People’s Office and Student Support Services at Seneca College. She is known as a genius with word puzzles and has a close family member who lives with the effects of brain injury.

Meri Perra

Communications Manager

Meri Perra has several years of experience connecting people to resources, through her former position at Find Help Information Services. She has a diploma in journalism, has worked as a contributor and assistant editor for an online parenting magazine and held a position as a news and sports editor for a digital media company.

Meri enjoys spending time biking during the warmer seasons and has started skiing in the winter when she puts her bike away. (Always wearing a helmet of course!). She is the mom of two amazing humans and one handful of a pup.

Isabelle Rivaletto

Community Coordinator, Homeless Prevention Program

Isabelle has been working in the field of Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) since 2014. Isabelle has worked in the community and supported individuals with medical appointments, community referrals and one to one support.

Isabelle comes to BIST with backgrounds in Psychology and Journalism and with a certificate in WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Planning) Facilitation. Her experience working in the community with individuals suffering from ABI has assisted her creating positive community partnerships and networks to assist individuals living with ABI to meet their goals, live healthier lives and be able to better access specialized services within their communities and obtain support.

When Isabelle is not working she can usually be found listening to music, attending live shows or playing drums. Isabelle can also be found looking for any opportunity to hang out with dogs or pet dogs.